It’s been a big decade for the labor movement, for Minnesota and for MAPE.

The last 10 years have been a combination of existential threats and unprecedented growth, setbacks and victories. It’s time to reflect together on the last decade, re-center on our values and ask ourselves: what do we do want to do next, together? This is an especially important question to ask as MAPE turns 40 this year. 

In the last decade, we’ve negotiated five contracts. Our latest contract represents a $1.2 billion investment in public services and the people who make Minnesota a great place to live, work, and play. There have been ups and downs throughout our contract negotiations – most of them the results of partisan dynamics.   

MAPE has been a steady and growing presence throughout changes in the administration. In 2010, MAPE represented just over 12,000 people. Today we represent more than 15,000 professional public servants. We’ve seen three governors, dozens of commissioners and hundreds of legislators during this time. No matter who Minnesotans elect to these positions, we will continue to grow our collective voice.  

The start of 2010 saw us digging out of the Great Recession, the greatest economic downturn since the 1930s. Nationally, the public sector labor movement faced unprecedented attacks as anti-union forces held up unions as scapegoats for states’ fiscal crises. Starting with Act 10 in Wisconsin and culminating with the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus v AFSCME decision to eliminate the fee payer option for public sector unions nationwide. 

But at the end of the last decade we also witnessed union approval near a 50-year high. Sixty-four percent of Americans approve of labor unions with Democrats, Independents and Republicans all more likely to view unions positively now than they were a decade ago. 

MAPE played an important role in labor’s resurgence in Minnesota with increased membership and a strengthening of union involvement in locals, agencies and worksites.  

We had several hard-won accomplishments which we should take a moment to celebrate:   

  • A paid parental leave benefit for over 40,000 state workers, the culmination of a MAPE-led campaign to support families with new children; 
  • A pioneering Respectful Workplace Policy, the result of hard work to remedy intense bullying at the Ely office of the Department of Revenue; 
  • The Dave Kampa bill, which ensured that correctional employees who are permanently disabled because of an assault at work continue to get healthcare coverage. The bill was named after a MAPE member was injured in an assault in Stillwater prison; and
  • In coalition with other unions, legislation that protects and sustains public sector pensions for generations to come. 

A decade can make a significant difference in the trajectory of the labor movement and of history. What do we want our next decade to look like?  What’s the voice we want to have in how state agencies are run, and resources are allocated? What are the relationships required of us – with members, with administration, with other unions and the community at large? What needs to change in order to get the power we want? What risks do we want to take together?

When we do this work, we don’t do it just for ourselves. As the largest state contract with the largest employer in Minnesota, the standards we set when we collectively bargain lift standards for all workers in the state. When we defend and strengthen the value of our $1.2 billion contract, we are defending and strengthening public services in Minnesota.  In this way, our contract is not only a contribution into the pockets of the people we represent; it is also an investment in the common good for all Minnesotans. 

As MAPE celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, I want to hear from you on what our next decade together should look like. Please email your ideas at MAPE40@mape.org. I look forward to hearing from you.

Reposted with permission from MAPE

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.